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Shopping for a reliable commercial ice maker for a bar?
You’ve come to the right place.
Commercial-grade ice makers are different than portable/countertop units and share more in common with large under-counter ice makers.
Commercial ice machines produce a LOT more ice per hour, for example.
They are usually connected directly to a water supply and typically store 20 lbs of ice or more.
They also consume more energy than kitchen-grade units.
Most commercial ice makers are tall standalone units or under-counter units that are designed to be placed on the floor, although today there is a wide range of styles and installation methods available.
What’s in This Buying Guide
In this guide you’ll find detailed reviews and comparisons of the best commercial ice makers for a bar or small restaurant.
We present & review our top picks for each common need first, then discuss the most important features and options to consider, including operating cost and maintenance issues.
Finally, we walk you through frequently-asked questions about commercial-grade ice machines, so you will know exactly what you are doing and which unit is best for your particular situation.
Best Commercial Ice Makers for a Bar
- Best Choice Overall: Euhomy Commercial Ice Maker Machine
- Best For Soft Drinks: Ice-O-Matic GEMU090 Ice Machine
- Best Gourmet Ice Maker: Scotsman CU50GA Undercounter Ice Maker
- Best Design: hOmeLabs Freestanding Commercial Ice Maker Machine
- Best High-Capacity: Manitowoc UDF0140A NEO
- Best Adjustable-Size Ice Maker: Vremi Commercial Grade Ice Maker
- Best Portable Commercial Unit: GE Profile Opal Countertop Nugget Ice Maker
- Best Small Commercial Ice Maker: Sunpentown Undercounter Ice Maker
|Commercial Ice Maker Machine||Production Capacity||Storage Capacity||LCD Control Panel||Ice Type||Dimensions (inches)|
|Euhomy Commercial Ice Maker Machine||100 lb.||33 lb.||Yes||Cube (adjustable size)||17.3 x 15.7 x 67.2|
|Ice-O-Matic GEMU090||85 lb.||22 lb.||Yes||Pearl||14.9 x 22.6 x 33.4|
|Scotsman CU50GA||64 lb.||26 lb.||Yes||Cube||14.9 x 22 x 34.4|
|hOmeLabs Freestanding||99 lb.||29 lb.||Yes||Cube (adjustable size)||17.6 x 15.7 x 31.4|
|Manitowoc UDF0140A NEO||132 lb.||90 lb.||No||Cube (full, half, and regular dice)||33 x 30 x 40|
|Vremi Commercial Grade||100 lb.||29 lb.||Yes||Cube||17.6 x 15.7 x 31.4|
|GE Profile Opal||24 lb.||3 lb.||No||Nugget||17.5 x 13.4 x 16.5|
|Sunpentown Undercounter||12 lb.||6 lb.||No||Crescent||8 x 15 x 25|
1. Best Overall: Euhomy Commercial Ice Maker Machine
Possessing all the features of a high-end commercial ice maker but at a fraction of the price, this Euhomy is the best overall choice for a small restaurant or bar that goes through a lot of ice each day.
This powerhouse appliance can produce up to 100 pounds of ice in 24 hours and stores 33 pounds at a time in its self-contained storage bin.
The storage bin is contained in a stainless cabinet featuring a quick-access door that slides up and out when it is not being used, so one-handed serving is easy.
The Euhomy ice machine is one of the most compact standalone ice machines, too. Measuring a mere 17.3 inches in length, you can store it in any tight spot near the bar.
It has a contemporary gray and black stainless-steel finish, so you can rest assured it will look good and complement the overall ambiance of your bar.
One feature we were impressed with is the Euhomy’s intuitive LCD control panel. The multifunction panel brilliantly displays the ambient temperature, so you always remain cognizant of the surrounding environment – so you can estimate the ice making performance from a distance.
The Euhomy’s display also tells you when the bucket is full and when the dicing process needs to be started.
The control panel lets you adjust the settings. You can adjust the size of the cubes by customizing the ice-making time, and you can initiate a self-cleaning process at the touch of a button.
The Euhomy commercial ice maker comes with all the accessories possibly required, including an ice pick, water supply pipe and drainage hose.
All in all, Euhomy is an overall excellent ice maker at an unbeatable price.
2. Best for Soft Drinks: Ice-O-Matic GEMU090 Ice Machine
We recommend this ice maker for bars that sell a lot of non-alcoholic drinks because it makes chewable ice and has one of the largest ice retention systems in its class.
Producing 85 pounds of ice in 24 hours, this ice maker has a storage bin capable of holding 22 pounds.
With a durable stainless-steel body in a black and gray color combination, this one is sure to last years. The system can be used outside, too – but only during mild days.
The price of this Ice-O-Match commercial ice maker is higher than other models on our list, but the features of the appliance make it unique and worth every penny for the right application.
The most exciting feature is of course, its chewable pearl ice, a registered trademark of Ice-O-Matic. The shape & soft crunchability of pearl ice (technically, compacted ice flakes) makes this ice maker perfect for serving soft drinks, iced tea, lemonade or any other non-alcoholic drink.
The unit is only 15 inches in width and can comfortably fit underneath a bar counter, no matter how cramped.
One restriction, however: this ice machine must be operated in a temperature-controlled environment with ambient air ranging around 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Best Gourmet Ice Maker: Scotsman CU50GA Undercounter Ice Maker
The Scotsman CU50GA is a heavy-duty ice machine that can crank out 65 pounds of gourmet ice cubes a day while storing up to 26 pounds.
What we like best about the Scotsman CU50GA and what compelled us to name it as the best under-counter machine is its WaterSense technology.
Minerals in water are the bane of gourmet ice makers like this one. Too many minerals will make your ice milky or brittle.
The ice maker has a built-in sensor that detects mineral-laden water and alerts you to it. Paired with the right water filter, the system ensures that your beverages are always uncontaminated, your ice is clearer and your ice maker is well-maintained.
The technology offers a cutting-edge control panel as well. The machine will instantly warn you about any changes in the operational status during a freezing cycle. Using the intuitive LCD panel, you can then make adjustments as required.
This is definitely not the quietest ice maker in the market, but no different than other models in its class.
All in all, this gravity-drain model makes an excellent under-counter gourmet ice maker for any bar or restaurant.
4. Best Design: hOmeLabs Freestanding Commercial Ice Maker Machine
The hOmeLabs commercial ice maker is easy to use, pleasant to look at, and a delight to work with.
The machine has a commercial-grade, built-in compressor that is powerful enough to produce 99 pounds of ice in a day.
The free-standing unit also has a built-in ice storage bin that can store as much as 29 pounds of ice. This unit’s production and storage capacity make it a great fit for large-scale bars with a high demand for ice.
It has a powerful motor, but you are unlikely to hear it much. Users seem to really enjoy how quiet the compressors on this industrial ice maker are.
Another brilliant feature popular with buyers is the adjustable ice cube size. You can adjust the time of the ice-making process to change the size of the ice; the more minutes you add to the time setting, the thicker your ice cubes will be.
The ice maker comes equipped with a complete set of accessories. You can find a matching ice shovel, water supply connecter, water supply hose, and water drainage hose in the package.
The machine is designed to work with a constant water supply, so you need not worry about filling up the water sump anymore.
This 99-pounder has a sleek body at only 18 inches wide. The housing is rust-resistant stainless steel that is easy to clean and maintain.
5. Best High-Capacity Ice Maker: Manitowoc UDF0140A NEO
This is the best commercial ice maker for bars with a big demand for ice, and for good reason.
This ice maker produces 132 pounds of ice every 24 hours and can hold up to a whopping 90 pounds in its self-contained ice storage bin.
Even though it does big things, at 33 inches wide the Manitowoc NEO is small enough to snugly fit under your bar counter.
If you need to display the unit, it should fit into any bar décor with its stainless-steel body.
The Manitowoc UDF0140A has one of the most durable constructions on any ice maker we’ve reviewed. With solid legs and a sturdy body, this machine can keep the ice flowing in the busiest Bourbon Street bar.
The NEO not only produces high volumes of ice, it produces them quickly. This ensures your customers will never have to wait for their drinks.
The ice making mechanism makes the NEO especially energy-efficient, and consequently, cost-effective. So if you upgrade to the Manitowoc UDF0140A, you will likely save in operating cost over the long run.
The price is not low, but for small service businesses that need boatloads of ice in a hurry, it is the probably best commercial ice maker you can find today.
6. Best Adjustable-Size Ice Maker: Vremi Commercial Grade Ice Maker
The Vremi commercial-grade ice maker is a highly customizable version of ice makers, and customers love it for this very reason.
Equipped with a digital control panel, this machine lets you adjust the ice-making time to control the size of ice cubes.
With this system, you can get many different thicknesses of ice cubes from the same machine.
The control panel also conveniently displays the temperature of the air surrounding the machine so you can make sure your ice maker is always in optimal working conditions.
Further enhancing the appeal of this ice maker is its automatic cleaning function. All you need to do is connect both the water supply and water draining hoses, plug in the power plug, and press the CLEAN button.
If we talk about the capacity, the Vremi ice maker is certainly not fooling around. This powerful machine can churn as much as 100 pounds of ice every day while also offering to store up to 30 pounds at any given time.
To help give you a better understanding, 30 pounds of stored translates to roughly 120 drinks which is enough to ensure your business keeps running even on the busiest of days.
Not only does it produce a lot of ice, but it also produces it fast. You can get 45 cubes of ice within 15-18 minutes!
7. Best Portable: GE Profile Opal Countertop Nugget Ice Maker
Perfect for a food truck or portable bar, the GE Profile Opal is an excellent-quality commercial-grade ice maker that can produces soft, crunchy nugget-style ice.
This ice maker produces 24 pounds of pebble/sonic-style ice daily and has a storage capacity of 3 pounds in its self-contained storage bin.
Built with a mix of stainless steel and plastic, the GE Profile Opal has a stylish and unique design for a commercial ice machine. The steel and plastic body also means that it is a breeze to clean.
The GE Opal also has another feature that most commercial grade ice makers lack: Bluetooth connectivity.
You can set a schedule for your ice maker and monitor ice/bin status on your smartphone using the included app. Handy for two-person food trucks.
The GE Opal also comes with a useful water recycling feature. If unused ice in the storage bin melts, the melt water is directed back into the reservoir where it is turned into more ice. This reduces the number of refills needed per day.
The GE Opal is truly portable, which is especially important for food trucks and bars in public settings. All you need to do to get the ice flowing is to plug it into a grounded 120V electrical outlet and fill it with water. There are no hoses or drainage lines to worry about.
Not to mention, you get soft chewable ice nuggets from the GE Opal. Unlike other ice makers on this list, the GE Profile Opal makes Sonic ice, a soft type of small nugget ice designed for chewing. So this unit is perfect for bars that mostly serve soft drinks.
8. Best Small-Scale: Sunpentown Undercounter Ice Maker
The Sunpentown is an economical solution for bars that have a relatively small demand for ice and a tight budget.
The free-standing Sunpentown ice maker produces 12 pounds of ice per day and comes with a removable ice bucket that can hold up to 6 pounds of ice at a time. This makes for a great option for small bars adjacent to hotels, etc.
The machine is only 8 inches wide, so it can be placed under the counter in any small nook.
This Supentown ice machine has a front exhaust fan and an air-cooling condenser, so only the bottom front of the unit needs to be exposed to release hot air. The kitchen or bar should also be well-ventilated.
It may be small, but it produces excellent-quality crescent-shaped ice for any type of iced beverage.
Another impressive feat is how Sunpentown has managed to create a quiet ice machine in this price range. The only time you will notice noise is when ice is falling into the bucket.
Where it lacks in capacity, it makes up for in looks. The ice maker comes with a smart stainless-steel door with a black cabinet – a modern finish that will match any bar and look as great as it does its job.
Commercial Ice Maker Buying Guide
Finding the best ice maker for your bar can be quite a daunting task. After all, ice machines are not cheap. And each is designed to produce a different kind of ice for a different type of setting.
In this guide, we explain the key features to consider when buying a commercial-grade ice maker so you can select exactly the right kind of machine for your business or bar.
What is a Commercial Ice Maker – and How Does it Work?
Commercial ice makers are standalone electric appliances that produce ice on a large scale.
These are manufactured for fast-paced industrial use, thanks to their ability to produce large quantities of ice in a short period of time and store it safely.
Ice makers come in all sizes and configurations, with different types of condensers and ice making mechanisms designed to produce different kinds of ice.
Most commercial ice machines that make gourmet, cube or crescent ice typically use ice trays connected to heat-exchanging, coiled pipes. The ice trays are chilled, after which water from a collection sump is gradually poured into the trays.
Because the water is poured slowly, it freezes in microscopic layers and allows air to escape before the next layer is added. This method produces clear ice, instead of the cloudy blocks we get at home when we freeze warm water in a tray.
Finally, freshly-formed ice cubes are loosened using heated coils or pressure and either slide down or are knocked out of the tray into the bin, ready to be tossed into a drink.
In pebble or nugget ice makers, a different mechanism is used. Most Sonic-style pebble nugget ice machines spray water into a round cooled tube, which is frozen into thin layers inside the tube. Then, ice is scraped from the barrel and then pressure is used to create the nuggets. This creates softer, chewable ice that is noticeably milky in color due to the trapped air inside.
Why Buy a Commercial Ice Maker
Any fast-paced beverage business like a bar at a popular club or a busy food court requires large amounts of ice in short sprints, something that is often impossible to pull off with a small kitchen appliance.
Commercial ice makers are specifically designed to deal with this challenge by creating large amounts of ice in a short period of time and safely storing the ice until needed.
Large output volumes are just one advantage of commercial ice makers, however.
In addition, commercial machines are generally much better at producing special kind of ice including gourmet clear ice, the standard for any upscale bar. Kitchen grade ice makers typically product a milkier grade of ice due to their simpler mechanism.
Commercial ice machines can also produce unique shapes and sizes of ice. For example, square cubes are typically paired with alcohol, while crescent cubes & pebble/nugget ice are better for restaurants that serve sodas.
What to Look for in a Commercial Ice Maker
There are several features you need to consider when choosing the best ice machine for your bar or food establishment.
What Type of Machine Do You Need?
The first decision will be the type of ice machine you need, which depends on the quantity of ice you require each day.
There are two main types of commercial ice machines to choose from:
Self-contained ice machines
Also called integral ice machines, these are best suited for light to moderate demand. They have a smaller ice-making capacity and come with smaller built-in storage bins.
They are also smaller in size, making them great for premises with space restrictions.
Self-contained ice machines typically go under or on top of the counter to offer quick access to staff and, in some self-service businesses, to customers as well.
Modular ice machines
If your bar has a high demand for ice, you should go for a modular unit. These machines have a larger capacity and output than self-contained machines and have an upright, freestanding design to account for the increased capacity.
Modular systems also let you choose the production and storage capacity independently to make sure your machine is perfectly customized to your specific needs.
The ice maker and storage bin are sold separately with this type of ice machine and might cost more initially.
However, if you expect your business to scale over time or have a busy bar, investing in a modular machine will save you money in the long run.
Modular machines are designed for staff use / not customer access, making them a better choice for the kitchen or behind the counter instead a countertop with self-service.
What Type of Condenser?
After picking the type of machine you want, your next step is to figure out the type of condenser that will work best for you. Condensers are of three types:
This is the most common and cost-effective option. Air-cooled condensers use ambient air to keep the machine cool.
Since they release hot air, they need empty space on all four sides to maintain a healthy working temperature. In other words, you cannot use them in cramped spaces.
They can also be too noisy for certain settings. If you are low on space, wish to avoid noisy machines, and work in a hot setting, this may not be the choice for you.
Water-cooled condensers use ambient water to keep the machine cool. They make less noise than air-cooled condensers and also don’t require empty space around the units.
The only drawback is that they require a constant supply of water and maybe costly in terms of resources.
Remote air-cooled condensers
Like air-cooled condensers, these too use ambient air to help release heat.
However, remote condensers are located separate from the machine, often on an outside wall or the building’s roof.
This helps eliminate the noise concern and empty space requirements of the standard air-cooled condenser, but it significantly increases the machine’s cost.
How Much Ice Do You Need?
Now that we have technicalities out of the way, it’s time to focus on the practical stuff.
Let’s begin with the ice-making capacity of your ice maker.
Estimate the volume of ice you consume at your bar on your busiest day of the week, and then increase it by 10-20%.
If you need large quantities of ice – 50 pounds or more per day – then you should consider a modular ice machine with a large ice storage bin.
If your needs are less, however, an undercounter self-contained ice machine may meet your requirements while also taking up less space.
Whatever you do, never buy too small. If you buy too small of a machine, you will have to replace it soon anyway. It may seriously hurt the profitability of your bar as well.
What Kind of Ice?
The perfect drink has the right kind of ice in the right amount.
Ice makers can produce different types of ice, and each is meant to be used in a specific setting.
Gourmet clear cubes are used in upscale environments. These are premium ice cubes, sometimes also referred to as ‘designer’ cubes. They melt slowly, are crystal clear, and do not stick to each other.
Full cubes are the most common type of commercially produced ice. They melt slowly and keep drinks cool for long periods of time.
Half cubes are the lighter, smaller version of the standard full cube. Using this lets you fit more ice in a glass. However, they melt relatively faster than full cubes.
Nugget ice is made by compacting shaved ice into different shapes like pearl, cubelet, or sonic ice. Ice nuggets are softer than cubes and prevent drinks from foaming or fizzing. These are the best for soft drinks, ice tea, lemonade et al.
Where Do You Plan on Placing It?
It is crucial to make sure that your ice maker is the right size for your bar.
The best way to do this is to measure the area designated for the ice maker.
Then, note the specifications of an ice maker you have your eyes set on. Take care to consider the room to open and close the ice bin and required wall clearance in your measurement.
You also need to make sure that there is ample ventilation available for the ice machine. For example, if a model has an exhaust fan in the front, you will need to clear the area in front of the machine to guarantee proper ventilation.
Similarly, you should confirm that the electrical and plumbing requirements of the ice machine match what your bar space can offer.
For example, you should have room for water supply and drainage hoses if your ice maker requires these. If a unit will be placed on a basement floor, it may need an additional sump pump to drain properly.
What Is Your Budget?
As important as it is to find a commercial ice maker that meets your need, it is equally important – if not more so – to find one that also meets your price range.
Several factors influence the price of an ice machine.
Machines producing shaved and nugget ice are pricier and are arguably unnecessary for a small bar.
Similarly, machines with remote condensers are easily twice the price of built-in condensers.
Apart from looking at the machine’s price, you should also factor in post-purchase costs. This includes the cost of buying accessories like water filters, pumps, ice shovels – and of course, energy costs and installation and maintenance.
Take time to work out the most cost-effective solution for your bar in the long term.
Pros and Cons
Are you wondering whether getting a commercial ice maker for your business is worth the trouble?
Here’s a quick list of pros and cons help you out.
You won’t run out of ice
You might be thinking: your bar is doing fine most of the time with that small ice maker.
However, the right business strategy is to plan for your busiest day, not just average demand, which is where a commercial ice machine saves the day.
And you don’t want your ice maker to break – and commercial units are designed to be used 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. A kitchen-grade unit just won’t hold up.
With a more reliable higher-capacity ice machine, your wait staff will make more in tips on busy days, your customers will stay served (and loyal) and your business will grow.
You’ll serve fresh, clear and appetizing ice
Imagine going to a highly recommended bar, paying a good amount of money, and finally seeing misshapen, cloudy chunks of ice in your drink; how likely are you to order again?
Ask any good bartender about the importance of quality ice.
Almost nothing else can elevate the quality of your bar than serving high-quality ice designed for each drink – and enough of it.
Commercial ice makers do not come cheap. In addition to the initial investment of several hundred to a few thousand dollars, there are the electricity and maintenance costs.
However, we your business is making good use of the appliance, the cost is more than worth it in terms of happy customers, return business and even labor savings.
For most bars, the increase in sales and profits will more than cover the cost of the machine, and the investment will prove worthwhile.
Cleaning and care can be time-consuming
The last thing you want is to be serving contaminated ice to your customers.
Commercial ice machines require a careful cleaning routine, daily. If you are short on time or staff, a commercial appliance may not be the best fit for you.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Dirty ice in a drink: for a bar, the repercussions are steep.
Contaminated ice can spread disease and bring seriously damage the reputation of a business.
Therefore, you must follow a cleaning regimen.
How Often should Commercial Ice Makers be Cleaned?
All ice machines should be wiped down and disinfected daily.
In addition, for a commercial ice machine the FDA stipulates a minimum of a biannual cleaning by a professional or per manufacturer instructions.
To guarantee food safety standards and prevent scale buildup, mold, and the development of bacteria, ideally you should professionally clean your unit quarterly.
How Often Should Ice Machine Filters be Changed?
Make sure to change the filters on your commercial ice machine at least once every six months to keep getting fresh, clear ice.
If your water filters are full or worn out, they will become ineffective at filtering minerals, microbes, and chemicals in the water supply. In turn, this will impact the taste and smell of the ice produced.
How Are Commercial Ice Makers Different from Residential Ones?
Commercial ice makers are larger in size, have larger ice production and storage capacities, and come with a larger price tag. Commercial ice makers are usually modular or self-contained.
In contrast, residential ice makers have smaller production and storage capacities and are more compact compared to their commercial counterparts. These are typically built-in, refrigerator, portable, or small under-counter units.
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of condenser does a commercial ice machine require?
Your choice of condenser depends on the ice machine you own and the workspace the machine is situated in. Your budget will also dictate the condenser you can afford to buy.
Air-cooled condensers are suited for large staff kitchens with ample space and temperatures below 70 degrees and are the cheapest kind available.
Water-cooled condensers are a slightly pricier but more compact and less noisy – as long as you can provide a constant water supply to them.
Remote condensers are the high-end of ice cube machine condensers with very quiet operation, sleek bodies and high price.
Does a commercial ice maker require a water filter?
Commercial ice makers do not necessarily require a separate water filter; it will likely work without a filter.
However, if you do use a filter, you will get cleaner, fresher, and clearer ice.
A water filter removes microbes, minerals, and any other impurities from the water and makes sure the end product is fit for consumption and presentable.
What is the average life of a commercial ice cube machine?
The average commercial ice machine has a lifespan of 8-9 years.
To increase the life of your appliance, perform regular cleaning and maintenance per the manufacturer’s instructions, use water filters with your machine, and ensure a steady/uninterrupted supply of electricity to it.
In our opinion, the Euhomy Commercial Ice Maker Machine is the best commercial ice maker for a small bar that needs high-quality ice production quickly. It looks good, is easy to set up, and is one of the most affordable commercial ice makers available.
That said, you should of course select the right machine for your needs – hopefully the list of top-rated commercial ice makers above will include one for you.